The Energy Resource Fund, more commonly known as the Malampaya fund, is looking to be used to purchase seismic vessels in development of the country’s oil and gas sector.
The seismic vessels will be used for oil and gas exploration, DOE assistant secretary Gerardo Erquiza said in a Senate hearing earlier this week.
“The Malampaya fund is being considered to be tapped for marine scientific research. Why not use it for oil and gas exploration,” he said. “Procuring that kind of ship is strongly considered because at present the cost of renting one is $1,000 per 1 kilometer,” he said.
“Either we pay somebody to do it or allow private entities to conduct data gathering…every time that we do that, it incurs us costs. So we will study whether if it is feasible,” Erguiza added.
The study will be submitted to the DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi for approval.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said that the proposal would be a productive use of the Malampaya fund as it is related to energy resource development and exploitation activities.
He said that the country is behind in terms of marine scientific research and explorations and seismic surveys due to lack of technology and equipment.
“One of these vessels will cost P1.2 billion, which can be covered by the Malampaya fund…These ships can also do marine research but primary role is seismic research,” the senator said.
Gatchalian added that the Malampaya fund still has enough money to cover the payment stranded contract costs (SCC) and stranded debts (SD) of the National Power Corp. (Napocor) even with the purchase of seismic survey ships.
Senator Ralph Recto earlier said that the Malampaya fund can be used to pay the SCC and SD to directly benefit power consumers and place the 60 percent government share from the fund under the scrutiny of Congress through the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
SCC and SD payments are covered through the universal charge (UC) which is a pass-on rate to consumers and is also used to finance missionary electrification and environmental fund.
However, using the Malampaya fund in payment for the Napocor debts would require the amendment of the EPIRA.